What Do Mountains in the Psalms Teach Us About God?
I awoke on Sunday morning to the words, “I will lift my eyes to the mountains,” and “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord is around his people.” I was in Rock Springs, Wyoming, on the last leg of a journey to Idaho to visit family. There were mountain in the distance prompting my thoughts. What I didn’t know was the beauty about to unfold that day as we drove through mountains in Wyoming and Utah. I wondered, what can we learn about mountains in the Psalms? Or, more important, what do mountains in the Psalms teach us about God?
Mountains in Scripture
Mountains were a significant part of Hebrew landscape. There were 35 major mountain ranges in the area, hence their importance in Scripture.
Mountains are mentioned over 500 times in Scripture. They were everywhere. Being close to the sky, they were considered to be close to God. Often the Hebrews encountered God on mountain tops. Moses met God on Mount Sinai. There was Mount Tabor, Mount Hebron and Mount Mizor (Ps. 42:6-7 and Ps. 89:12). The Jerusalem temple was on Mount Zion. Jesus was transfigured on a mountain and gave a famous sermon on the mount. Then there was Golgotha and Mount Calvary.
The Nature of Mountains
Many continue to see mountains as a place to encounter God. Monasteries are often located in desert, mountainous terrain, where inaccessibility guaranteed silence, poverty, and small numbers. The Celts considered mountain tops to be “thin” places, where the veil between the earth and heaven was lifted.
Mountains divulge important information about who God is. Every part of creation reveals something about the nature of its Creator. Having grown up in Michigan, my experience of mountains has been limited. I have found God amid the trees, lakes and hills of Michigan.
Mountains reveal another aspect of God, beautiful, but also frightening. I am awed by the majesty of the Rocky Mountains as I drive through them, but also scared as we curve around steep inclines. A careless driver could easily round a curve too quickly and end up below. Some things are better observed from afar.
Mountains in the Psalms
Mountains are strong and unmoving. Thus our God is strong, steadfast in his righteousness. Many Psalms speak of this strength as well as how God created the world, including the mountains.
- Your righteousness is like the great mountain; Your judgments are a great deep:
O Lord, you preserve man and beast. 36:6
- Which by his strength set fast the mountains; being girded with power. 65:6
- You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains.
They go up by the mountains; they go down by the valleys unto the place which
you have founded for them. 104:6-8
- They that trust in the Lord shall be as mount Zion,
which cannot be removed, but abides forever.
As the mountains are round about Jerusalem,
so the Lord is round about his people from
henceforth even forever. 125:1-2
- As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion;
for there the Lord commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. 133:3
Mountains in the Psalms Quake before God
Yet, as strong as the mountains are, they quake before our God, the creator.
- The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai, before the LORD, the God of Israel. 18:7
- Then the earth shook and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains trembled; they were shaken because He burned with anger. 29:6
- You are more glorious and excellent than the everlasting mountains. 67:4
- His foundation is in the holy mountains. 87:1
- Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God. 90:2
- In whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are His also. 95:4
- The mountains melted like wax at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the Lord of the whole earth. 97:5
Other Aspects of Mountains in the Psalms
Mountains were places of danger. Is it any wonder that the Psalmist would pray, “I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” 121:1-2
But they were also places of refuge. David often hid in the mountains from Saul and his soldiers. “In the Lord put I my trust; how say you to my soul, flee as a bird to your mountain?” 11:1
As often found in the poetry of the Psalms, the mountains took on characteristics of humans and animals:
- The mountains leaped like rams, the hill like lambs. 114:4
- May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness. 72:3
What Do Mountains in the Psalms Teach Us About God?
Mountains are majestic, powerful, frightening and wonderfully made—a reflection of the God who created them. They are a place of refuge and source of protection, like our God. But as steady, unshaking, everlasting as the mountains are, our God is more powerful. God will outlast the tallest mountain.
What has been your experience of mountains? What have you learned from them?
This blog post is part of a series on the Psalms. Sign up for to receive these blog posts and receive a free copy of Still Dancing, the second book in my dancing through life series. click here to sign up
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